I am often asked how I arrive at the many names that are given to the livestock here on my farm. The most noteworthy has been of course, Guiseppe Patrick Nunzio McGuire, donkey. Hardly in second place but quite even with it are my Border Collies, Glencora MacClusky and Nelly Zolotoroffsky. Of course there are also Burgo Fitzgerald and Doby Fitzgorman, rams, Adelaide and Honey Merriman, goats (mother and daughter) and the Young Pretender, ram. Then there are Candida Lycett-Green and her daughter Cameron Lycett-Green, and her daughter Cecelia Lycett-Green. Goats. Grandmother, mother and daughter. The next family off-spring in their line shall be Candace Lycett-Green.
I've never completely invented a name. They are always suggested to me from one source or another. Originally, when I first had sheep, the Barsershire series, thirty or so novels written by Angela Thirdell, the grand niece of Anthony Trollope, provided me with numerous names. Lavinia Brandon was a favorite. However, Thirdell also commented that first names were more difficult to come by than last names. Witness our current fancy for giving girls last names as first names. MacKenzie and Taylor come to mind. She had continued the Trollope series, the six Palliser novels, skipping a generation or two, but writing about the same families and the same neck of the woods in Barsetship, England. She wrote over a period of thirty years, describing the inevitable and gradual intermingling of families and social classes, usually through marriage. But she had the same problem that I have. Do I name another sheep Lavinia Brandon after my first Lavinia who died fifteen years ago? It is too lovely a name to be buried in a sheep's grave. But am I describing the original Lavinia by giving her name away? How do I do that? Assume that one of the kitchen lambs, or both, for they are twins, is a great granddaughter? They then could become Lavinia and Lattice rather than Virginia and Veronica? The names that seem most delightful are usually British. Of course, Sterling Burgess is an interesting one, American, our own Tasha Tudor. Sterling shall be a goat, I think, of outstanding qualities, of course. My donkey bears one of the names of the friend who found him for me at an auction. Included are the names of his father and grandfather. Glencora was the central figure of the Paliser series and Burgo Fitzgerald was the name of her first love. Irresistible to have them both around, even if one is a dog and the other a ram. Nelly is the name given to all of my grandfather's dogs. Some pictures were recently sent to me by my cousins of our family "fahm" that included pictures of several Nellys, always rolling on the grass, tummy exposed, ready to be scratched. Her last name has become Zolotoroffsky because she needs a last name with some ring to it. "Here, Nelly", doesn't quite cut it, calling her in from the fields and woods. "Nelly Zolotoroffsky, here!" has more authority behind it. So be it.
I shall be looking for a Toggenburg buckling soon for the goats. His last name shall be critical as all of his line shall bear it. All of the cats, barn cats as well as indoor cats, have names beginning with the letter P. Prince, Prentice and Prescott, Pembrooke, Pendelton and Peabody. The next ones, and I'd love to find an orange pair once again, are to be Penhollow and Pendograst. Next summer, perhaps, I'll luck out. The Horned Dorsets are Bess Throckmorton and Melody Throckmorton, respectively. Mrs. Sinding, a name given by my old friend Liz Gruen, Margaret Fearnley Wittenstall and Alexis Lennox Boyd. Bess is named after Sir Walter Raleigh's wife. The name Melody came to me without much thought. Margaret and Alexis were mentioned in the English magazine Country Living. Those names flew off the page at me. Delight and joy! The twin Horned Dorsets born this winter to my most impossible, and therefore, unnamed sheep have yet to be named. They are five and a half weeks old. One suddenly stopped nursing and needed heroic measures in order to save her life. She, of course, was then brought to the house. When she seemed big enough she was moved to the carriage house until I realized she was at risk from all of the other animals in there. Many are horned. All are adults. She now lives with another lamb in the wood room. She is growing, energetic, and even finer in confirmation than the twin sister who remained with their mother.
It is unfortunate that their dam has never been called anything but the Impossible sheep. The designation was well earned. She was five or six years old when she came here five years ago. And a fine jumper, par excellance. When she began to train some younger ewes who never thought to challenge a fence before. I began to despair. Two winters ago she sprained her ankle. I checked for an infection. Found none. There was nothing I could do for a sprain. She limped around the barn for weeks. And never leapt a fence since. She is eleven. And recently decided to accept me. Will wonders nerve cease! While I seem to be remiss in naming the twins, I found on my pages of suggested names two that had been considered shortly after they were born. Felicity and Fiona. And so they shall be. And their mother? The Impossible McPhearson seems best. Therefore they shall be Felicity and Fiona McPhearson. Twin Horned Dorset ewe lambs. My future.
And that is how my flocks got their names.
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